In their roles as security chief and delinquent barkeep, Odo and Quark are the very definition of “frenemies” aboard starbase Deep Space 9. With Odo’s quest for justice only rivaled by Quark’s thirst for wealth, the duo have peppered their arguments with devastating insults, witty banter, and even friendly advice over the years.
Documenting their entire inventory of exchanges would be near impossible, so we’ve narrowed things down to a list that highlights some of their most dazzling dialogue from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
“Sure, sometimes we're on opposite sides, but that doesn't mean that we aren't close. I never told you this, Odo, but I consider you as dear to me as my brother.”
“And I've seen how well you treat him.”
Attempting to save his beloved Natima Lang and her students from Cardassian persecution, Quark leaned on every trick he had up his sleeve to convince Odo to release the dissidents from custody. From theorizing about a Cardassia free of military rule to asking Odo to do it as a personal favor to him, Quark eventually tried using a bit of truth, largely describing the type of kinship that he and Odo actually had.
On the other hand, comparing his feelings for Odo to those he held for Rom opened the door for the Changeling to reply with a gruff retort about how Quark treats his biological brother. Although argumentative, this back-and-forth establishes a clear connection between the duo that would continue to develop as the series progressed.
“Vole infestations are not uncommon on this station. If you don't believe me, ask Chief O'Brien.”
“When I came in, he and Morn were painting numbers on the voles’ backs.”
“We were just... counting them to see how many we'd caught.”
Ah, the infamous Cardassian voles. Upon catching Quark and Morn making preparations to stage a vole fight, Odo brought the Ferengi ringleader before Benjamin Sisko, allowing Starfleet’s station commander to hear each person’s side of the story.
As usual, Quark portrayed himself as a victim of a vole infestation who was merely seeking to do his civic duty by capturing as many of the rodents as he possibly could. Sisko and Odo never believed that argument for a nanosecond, but Quark’s plea that the numbers on the voles were not intended to keep track of them as fighters proved to be a hilarious-yet-futile tactic that the Ferengi hoped would deceive the two officers.
“These hew-mons, they're nothing like the ones from the Federation. They're crude, gullible, and greedy.”
“You mean like you.”
“Yeah! These are humans I can understand... and manipulate.”
Accidentally thrown back into humanity’s past, Quark, Rom, and Nog were startled to find that Earth’s 20th Century inhabitants were much different than the ones they knew from the 24th Century. While Odo, Rom, and Nog wished to return to their century, Quark saw the potential for profit. He envisioned staying in the 1940s in order to build his own Ferengi empire.
Not missing a chance to poke at his opponent, Odo astutely pointed out that the qualities Quark planned to exploit were exactly the same as the ones he himself lived by on Deep Space 9. In typical Quark fashion, the Ferengi took no offense from the verbal jab, humorously agreeing that his own traits bestowed upon him the ability to manipulate these humans.
“You remember back there when I told you I hated you, and you told me you hated me?”
“I just wanted you to know- I meant every word of it.”
“So did I.”
Having crash landed on an inhospitable planet after the Orion Syndicate bombed their runabout, Odo and Quark endured their most trying experiences with one another. Cold, hungry, and tired, their tempers flared, and, at one point, they declared their hatred for one another.
Once rescued, the two recalled that spat as they rested in Sickbay. Any other pair of characters might have seen this period of relief as a chance to make amends for the harsh words they shared during a dangerous expedition, but Quark and Odo elected to pursue their usual “apology-through-insult” route. Then again, would we really have preferred it any other way?
“I served on a Ferengi freighter for 8 years…”
“...I must have witnessed the procedure hundreds of times.”
“Witnessed? You mean to say you never handled the controls yourself?”
With the rest of the station’s crew incapacitated, Quark arrived in Ops to help Odo avert a disaster. Quark suggested that he beam the security chief to a docking hatch so that he would be able detach a visiting vessel before it exploded. The offer surprised Odo as he did not realize the Ferengi knew how to operate a transporter.
Of course, Quark then disclosed that he had merely witnessed the procedure without giving Odo adequate time to interject. Fortunately, Quark proved capable with the technology, granting Odo the opportunity to save DS9 from destruction.
“Funny, for a minute there, I thought you were talking to me as a friend.”
Heartbroken over Kira’s affections for Shakaar, Odo lashed out at the furnishings in his quarters before taking a seat and sulking in silence. Having heard the original disturbance, Quark arrived to berate Odo, but upon seeing his foe’s emotional state, opted to offer his own version of comforting words.
Veiling his advice in a story about the pool he ran where patrons wagered on how long it would take Odo to apprehend various criminals, Quark encouraged Odo to be that steadfast and reliable officer rather than someone who gives up and sits in the dark. Despite his obvious intentions, Quark nevertheless refused to admit that he was acting as a friend.
“Dear Quark, I used parts of your disruptor to fix the replicators. Will return them soon, Rom.”
“I will kill him.”
Expecting the imminent arrival of a Klingon invasion force, Quark vowed to protect his bar at all costs, boasting about the disruptor he kept handy in a small box. However, upon opening it, the only item to be found was a note from Rom, which Odo read with great pleasure. When Quark’s frustration boiled over and he threatened his brother, Odo delivered the perfect comedic reply with the timing of a professional. The moment also added a bit of levity to what would become a tense and brutal situation.
“I suppose, during the occupation, the Cardassians considered their security chief a security risk.”
“And I know why.”
“Oh, do you?”
“It's because they knew you were an honorable man. The kind of person who would do the right thing regardless of the circumstances. And now, your integrity is going to get us both killed. I hope you're happy.”
Trapped in the security office by a previously unknown Cardassian program designed to quell any Bajoran revolts, Odo and Quark discovered that the Changeling’s workspace was protected by a forcefield that operated separately from those that had popped up around the rest of the space station. Quark’s analysis of the situation was flawless in his own mind, as the Ferengi did not assign blame to the Cardassians for creating the failsafe or the Federation officers who accidentally triggered it. Instead, Quark hurled his critique at Odo’s dedication to duty, an attribute which conveniently plagued the barkeep’s business operations over the years.
“You're telling me that after all these years, after all we've been through, you're not even going to say goodbye to me?”
“That's right. Nerys, I'll be on the runabout.”
“Don't take it hard, Quark.”
“Hard? What are you talking about? That man loves me. Couldn't you see? It was written all over his back.”
In a farewell so fitting that it may even rank up with Captain Picard’s decision to attend the U.S.S. Enterprise-D’s poker game in Star Trek: The Next Generation's “All Good Things...,” Quark arrived at the airlock just in time to catch Odo before Kira shuttled the shapeshifter back to the Founders’ homeworld in the Gamma Quadrant.
The moment perfectly encapsulated the pair’s friendship, as Quark took Odo’s dismissal of his feelings and subsequent exit as signals which demonstrated just how much the constable cared for his Ferengi adversary. As such, the duo’s cantankerous goodbye stands as one of their finest moments.
Jay Stobie (he/him) is a freelance writer and consultant who has contributed articles to StarTrek.com, Star Trek Explorer, and Star Trek Magazine, as well as to Star Wars Insider and StarWars.com. Jay can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @StobiesGalaxy.